3 secrets on creating a good life
I'm a huge believer in the power of a quote.
As a self-proclaimed Pinterest addict, I often search my feed daily for quotes. I love the feeling of seeing written words that fit my current day or mood perfectly.
And that is what happened the other day...
This quote hit me like a ton of bricks and I had to reread those two, seemingly simple sentences. "Create a life that feels good on the inside. Not one that just looks good on the outside."
This concept should be easy, create a life you enjoy and that makes you happy and healthy. We all want to be happy, but most of the time we are empty shells with a forced smile on our face as we try and create this facade. I know I'm guilty of that, and quite often. However, this quote sums up how I have been striving to live my life these past few months.
When my family and I decided to move to Costa Rica, we vowed to make this year a time of change. Each of us had personal goals we had been putting off and felt mentally unhealthy. We wanted to look at this life-changing move as a chance to finally get our lives back on track.
My main goal was to live a happy and fulfilled life. I like to consider myself a strong person. I do not like appearing weak or that I'm out of control. So over the years I've developed a disguise of a girl whose life is just peachy. Great job, great husband, great income, great mom-life, great travels. I did a damn good job at showing the world that I had everything under control.
But it was all a lie. I had a deep and utter feeling of disappointment. I'd constantly be waiting for the next vacation, next family event, next outfit to buy. Nothing I had at the moment was good enough. As soon as we re-decorated our house, I wanted to change it. If I lost a few pounds, it wasn't good enough. Once we returned home from a vacation, I was already bored and trying to book the next one. But I put on a show to the world that I enjoyed my day to day life and that nothing was amiss. It was utterly exhausting and I was rotting from the inside.This was what life was all about?
After months of focusing on ending this habit of personal havoc, I'm relieved to say I've dropped the facade and truly feel as happy on the inside as I show on the outside.
Its been a journey to say the least, and I don't think its one that ever has a final ending. Seeking a life that makes you feel happy and fulfilled is something you have to continuous work on as new struggles or situations arise. But the knot that twisted my perception of happiness has been untangled and I feel like I can finally take a breath of air. Looking at my life, past and present, I am utterly content and eager for the future.
Here are three of my secrets that helped me create a life that makes me feel good on the inside, not just the outside.
Don't let social media rule your life
Social media is king in today's day and age. In the U.S. alone, over 185 million people use social media. Insane!
While they are amazing tools to connect with the world, these accounts only provide tiny, peepholes into the lives of distant relatives, forgotten friends and celebrties. Daily, we glamorize other peoples' lives which often leaves us feeling empty, unhappy and disappointed.
But it's all a show.
Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, etc. are just glimpses and only show the best of strangers' lives. Most people only post the best selfies, the best news, their best travel experiences, etc.. Rarely do people show their hardships and gritty details of their lives! Seeing this false perfection puts unneeded pressure on us all to try and emulate this facade. This environment breeds jealousy.
Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash
I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram. As I try to grow my blog and following on Instagram, I am at a crossroads with my feelings towards this photo-centric app.
The images and videos of Instagram's influencers are always perfect. Enviable in fact. When I would scroll through my Instagram feed, for the longest time, jealous and comparative thoughts weighed heavy on my mind.
"I'll never be that pretty." "My style will never look that good." "I'll never have enough money to travel there." "I am so lazy." "Why can't my life be this fantastic?"
These painful comments that I repeated day-after-day took a toll on my happiness. Its often said that comparison is the thief of joy, and its 100% accurate. Once we downplay our own lives and accomplishments and look to others as the "right" life we have failed ourselves.
So, I took to my Instagram feed and cleaned house. Any account that left me feeling worse about myself I unfollowed. I wasn't blaming the Instagram accounts that made me feel unhappy about my life. I just knew that I wasn't strong enough yet to see these peoples' lives and not feel jealous or upset. This definitely helped as I decided to follow likeminded bloggers who kept things more "real" and more aligned with my personal goals.
Social media is supposed to make its users feel connected and provide value. Once it crosses the line and is a detriment to your own personal happiness, turn it off or re-evaluate how you use the apps. There are multiple studies that have proven that overuse of social media can lead to depression.
I try and limit my screen time, especially with my social media platforms. Shutting off before bedtime, no-phones during dinner, and keeping connected with people/accounts that help me be a better person all help limit the impact social media has on my happiness.
Live in the moment
This is probably the hardest one for me personally. I'm notorious for looking to the future, and while that isn't a bad thing, I take it a step overboard and forget to look at the current day and smile. There are so many beautiful and enriching things we experience and often times we forget to slow down and enjoy just being alive!
A family friend shared a video on Facebook several months ago that touched me. This beautiful and wise woman shares her family's outlook on cherishing happy moments, no matter how big or small. Its such a simple concept, to sit back and recognize what an amazing life we have been given, but most of the time we feel displeased with ourselves and current situation.
Its so easy to overlook a simple coffee break with a loved one, or ignore a beautiful day spent at home with the kids. We tend to wait for our next adventure or celebration which leads us to ignore simple, happy moments. The little things no longer bring us joy, but are more of an annoyance that are in our way from our "true" happiness.
I am so fortunate for the life I have and the people I share it with. My family is my rock and a huge component of my happiness. It upsets me knowing I missed so many happy moments by forgetting to slow down and just enjoy life. I was so caught up on these big, monumental life changes or adventures that I forgot to sit back and cherish the life I had.
"Beware of destination addiction - a preoccupation with the idea that happiness is in the next place, the next job and with the next partner. Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are" - Robert Holden PH.D
Our lives go by so quickly and are full of countless memories that should all be cherished whether we are skiing down the Alps, watching a thunderstorm, or simply laughing with our loved ones. Creating a life that feels as happy as it looks begins with living in the present moment.
Do what makes you happy
Ask a random person if they love their career and if it brings them happiness. I bet a majority of people will say no. Why?
Our careers take up a most of our lives. 8-5, Monday through Friday with usually only two weeks of paid vacation. We are working more than ever now that we can take it home with us through e-mail and smartphones. Having a job that makes you feel like your wasting your life is doing just that, wasting away your entire life.
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash
For my own personal journey, a career change was monumental and life changing. Leaving the investment world for a life of writing and traveling allows me to love what I do every single day. I feel more alive knowing I am working in a field I am passionate about. When I talk about my next trip or blog post, I genuinely smile. I don't have to put on an act and lie that I love my job and can't wait to get up in the morning.
I used to tell people my career was going great, but I was always counting down until 5:00 and used up every single vacation day to "escape". Now, I have my whole career in my hands and I'm living a life true by me. It's such a weight off my shoulders knowing my happiness runs deep and I can be a better example for my daughter as she watches me passionate about my work.
While I am no expert, these tips definitely helped my personal journey to a life of fulfillment and happiness. I was so lost during my early 20s and know I missed out on great opportunities always hiding behind my disguise. I am so relieved that I was finally strong enough to recognize my unhealthy habit of lying to others, and myself, on my happiness. A lot of anxiety, self-reflection and determination was needed to let go of the things bringing me down. But I couldn't be prouder of myself!
Start looking inward to find what makes you grateful and content. Those key things will bring you a life that feels good on the inside, and in the end, that is all that really matters.